The Criminal Records Bureau’s criminal record check is necessary step in becoming a teacher in the United Kingdom. If you are a new teacher or a teacher new to the country, you will likely be asked to apply for the “CRB check.” Most agencies make this process relatively straightforward and provide you with all the information you need. However, if you are a new teacher or are haven’t applied for the check in a while, it can be quite confusing. It may especially be a pain if you are attempting to get a CRB check without the help of your agency. This article will cover the basics of what a CRB check is and how to apply for one. It will also slide in a few pointers for overseas teachers who are brand new to teaching in the UK.
What is a “CRB check?”
In the UK, as in many other localities, individuals who work with children or other vulnerable persons are required to have a background check. Teachers certainly fit into this category and are no strangers to what are sometimes called “police checks.”
Like other police checks, the CRB check browses through criminal record databases to see if you have any previous offences that may deem you unable to work in vulnerable sectors. As a teacher, you will need to apply for the Enhanced version of the CRB check. Your agency will generally keep a copy on file for you and send it to any schools you work at. Additionally, some schools may want to see the check first-hand, so it is also a good idea to keep a copy on you when visiting schools.
Overseas Tip: Some agencies may require you to provide a police check from your country of residence in addition to the CRB check. This is because the CRB cannot check international criminal records and your agency (and the schools) want to know if you have been found guilty of any offences in your home country.
How to Apply for a CRB Check:
The first thing to know about applying for a CRB check is that individuals cannot directly request a check from the Bureau. You must obtain and submit an application form through a Registered Body. The employer or agency you are working for should provide you with a CRB check application. If they are not a registered body themselves, they usually work with a company that is. If your agency is not willing to help you with your CRB form then they are pushing the burden onto your shoulders and perhaps you should ask why.
If you are self-employed or need to obtain a CRB check without the help of your employer or agency, then you have to go through an “umbrella body.” An umbrella body is a company that is registered with the Bureau and can submit CRB applications on your behalf. Some teaching agencies that are not registered with the Bureau themselves use these umbrella bodies as a middleman to send in their teachers’ applications. The Bureau’s website has a handy umbrella body search if you need to find one.
Beware that umbrella bodies may charge fees on top of the standard CRB check costs (£26 for Standard, £36 for Enhanced).
Note: Umbrella bodies are not to be confused with the umbrella companies that provide payroll services (discussed in our “What is an Umbrella Company?” article). They are completely different in what they do, although they are both middlemen reducing the amount of work teaching agencies have to do.
Once you receive your application, follow the instructions that accompany it. As with any government application, attention to detail is important. Also, remember to use black ink—something the instructions seem to insist upon! Once your application is completed and you have included the necessary documentation, send it back to your agency or umbrella body so they can submit it to the Bureau. Then, just wait-wait-wait for your results. According to the Bureau they “aim” to process 90% of Enhanced checks within four weeks. Once the process is complete, one copy of the CRB will be sent to you and one to your agency (or the body you applied through).
Overseas Tip: Many teachers choose to apply for the CRB check before arriving in the UK, which is a very good idea since the process can take up to 2 months. This means you do not yet have a UK address. When filling out your application, the Bureau suggests that you put the address of your agency or umbrella body as the “corresponding address in the UK.”
Volunteers: Are you not getting paid for your services but still need a CRB check? See if you qualify for a free CRB check.
If you still have questions regarding CRB checks your agency should be happy to help you. The CRB also has a very informative website that answers many common CRB questions. Additionally, feel free to post any comments or questions below!